Re-facing a vanity

While you might think re-facing a cabinet would be fairly simple, that all depends on how square the original builder installed them in the beginning.

Deconstruction:  This step was pretty straight forward as you might think.  The countertop was removed by the homeowner so that left only the vanity to be deconstructed / defaced.  All the drawers and doors were removed and then all of the face frame.

New face frame gets installed.  This was pretty simple.  I used red oak hardwood for all of the build except where plywood could be used.

Now came the time to build all of the shaker style doors and drawers.  I set up my dado blade and cut all of my door and drawer styles and rails at the same time so that I could ensure that all of them would have the same center panel set back.

Next came time to install all of the doors and drawers in the newly faced vanity.  This is where things began to get interesting and not in the best way possible.  As I started test fitting all of my doors and drawers, I started noticing that things weren’t quit lining up the way they should have.  The large center doors lined up almost perfectly with the exception of the RH doors.  I noticed that one door was kicked out at the bottom and the other was kicked in.  What I soon realized was that the bottom of the cabinet and the top of the cabinet weren’t in the same plane as each other.  Bring into action the builder installed cabinet.  This was easy enough to fix with a small stop block in the center and small amount of sanding and planning to bring both doors back to flush.  This was only possible due to the understanding nature of the customer.  And if that had been the worst of the problems I would be jumping around like a small child at recess but the saga continues.

The next step was to install all eight of the new drawers.  Again what should have been a straight forward task turned into hours of frustration.  Not really frustration but disappointment.  Again I found that the while not only was the front face of the vanity out of plane, the ends where also out of plane with each other.  I struggled for several hours trying to install shims for the drawer slides in order to get each drawer centered perfectly but it seemed like I was just chasing my tail.  I had to call it a night on this one or I was going to pull what little hair I have out.  After getting to bed early due to exhaustion, I awoke at 3:30am and the answer hit me like a truck.  If the cabinet wasn’t square then I needed to build a square box inside of the unsquared box.  So that’s what I did the next morning.

Now was the time to install the box in a box and see if my problems went away.  Success!  I was finally able to get all of the drawers in the vanity and lined up and gapped correctly.

Finally after the customer painted all of the doors and drawers I was able to finish installing the hardware and install them all final.

It was a tough project but a fun project because I had to think outside the box or I guess I should say inside the box and I learned a lot about what to expect or not expect when working with builder installed cabinetry.  The customer was pretty pleased with the final product and so was I.  The next phase is to build two tower cabinets on each end with a light panel spanning between them with crown molding wrapping the top.  I’ll cover that on the next blog for this build.  See ya soon.

1 thought on “Re-facing a vanity”

  1. “What looks square isn’t always square.” How true ! Many times, the original builder truly slaps things together. I run across this much too often when working on door frames and garage door components. Good eye and keep paying attention to detail. You know when a pro has been on the seen.

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